The Gunas and Societal Choices

In the past articles, I have discussed the natural Unfolding of the Ages, and how we as Axial Beings moved through the Age of Gold to the current Age of Iron, and the impact of the Patriarchal Revolution.  I explained that the movement from the Age of Gold through the Age of Iron is a natural one, as natural as the changing of the seasons.  It is also likely that the Patriarchal Revolution was somewhat inevitable as humanity progressed through the Age of Iron, although, it is just as likely that humanity embraced patriarchy, with its overbalanced Martial/Vikhelic influence, beyond that which was inevitable.  That is a matter of speculation rather than doctrine, I think.

Now that we have been exposed to these ideas, however, I think it is time to discuss the gunas, which I believe do, to a large extent, represent choices of various societies.  One way to understand the gunas is to refer back to the discussion of the symbolism of the Cross, and how that relates to Free Will.  If you recall, humans have the choice day by day, minute by minute to make choices in an Upward, Outward (material), or Downward direction.  Just as individuals have that choice, so do societies.

Egyptian ladiesA society moving in an Upward direction is a Sattwic, or Traditional, society.  In a Traditional society, every aspect of life has a spiritual dimension.  For example, pottery making is as spiritual as the performance of sacred rituals.  In a Traditional society, there is no separation between the spiritual and the secular.  Everyone knows her place and her role in life in such a society, and these societies are generally Unanimous societies.  Everyone understands and agrees on what is right and what is wrong, and it is understood that if a decision is right, everyone will know that and agree.  If there is not agreement, then there is something amiss.  This would be analogous to a modern scientist getting an anomalous result in an experiment.  In the Age of Iron and after the Patriarchal Revolution, even Traditional societies did not fully function in the way that they may have in the past.  This is shown by the often cruel and warlike nature of even Traditional societies, such as Medieval Europe.   The presence of these cruelties is part of the Age of Iron and an overbalanced Martial/Vikhelic influence.  It is by no means intrinsic to Traditional societies, and it is likely that earlier Traditional societies were far gentler and largely harmonious.

Victorian dressA society moving in an Outward direction is a Rajastic, or Normal, society.  When a society moves in a Rajastic direction, its focus is on the material, outward side of life.  The Classical Hellenistic period and the Renaissance period in Europe were Rajastic societies.  It is in these societies that glorious works of art are created.  A person from a Traditional society would likely be disturbed by the focus on the material that exists in a Normal society.  Indeed, Plato criticized the Hellenistic art of his time as “making copies of copies.”  This was because our human and natural form is an imperfect reflection of the Divine Perfect Form, so art imitating the natural form was a poor substitute for art which attempted to imitate the Perfect Form, or the Archetypes.  Even so, in a Normal society, the connection to the Divine is not lost.  While true knowledge of the higher and spiritual is often lost in the main in a Rajastic society, there is still an unconscious connection with the Divine in the material forms.

An example of this can be seen in the ritual of eating at the table.  In addition to eating at a table, often plates are traditionally circles.*  Circles are symbolic of the Solar Spirit, or the Divine Creative Force which is both outside of us and deep within us.  While most of us do not ritually offer our food first to the Divine, as was done in Traditional societies, eating at the table, putting our food on a circular plate before eating it, and saying a form of thanks or grace, vestigially and unconsciously still invokes a ritual offering.

The connection with the higher Upward direction is quite powerful, and it remains solid as long as it is not severed.   We are spiritual, rather than material, beings, so as long as nothing severs our connection with the Upward path, even if we do not understand it, the Upward will still provide a connection and will still come through in an Outward or Rajastic society.

Once the connection with the Upward and the Divine is lost, Rajastic societies are in danger being pulled down into a Tamasic, or Inverted, society.  Until around the 1960’s, Western Europe and the United States were Normal societies.  They were certainly materialistic, and much understanding of the spiritual meanings behind various traditions were long lost.  However, the vestiges of tradition remained.  In the mid-1960’s, Western society began to cut itself off from all tradition.  Once the connection to the Upward Path was lost, it was only a matter of time before the Downward, Darker, and destructive forces began to take over.

In my WordPress inbox, I saw a picture that was part of a WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words.  This picture is a perfect illustration of our current Inverted society.  I previously discussed the poisons of our Modern Inverted Society, as explained in The Feminine Universe, in a previous article, The Outer Planets; A Theory.  In that article, I gave a brief explanation of these three poisons, atomization, deracination, and deformation.    This picture is a perfect illustration of all three of these poisons.

alone-on-the-playground

The girl is alone, which is the definition of atomization, or being cut off from other people and the community.  The girl’s clothing is deracinated.  It is sloppy, with little attention to any tradition or concept of beauty.  Compare her clothing to the simple beauty of the Sattwic Egyptian society in the first picture and the elaborate dresses of the Rajastic Victorian Era in the second picture.  See also the strange, frightening green creature on the merry-go-round the girl is sitting on.  This is an example of deformation.  The creature is not a natural form, like the other animals.  The creature is also not representative of a Traditional archetype created in a ritual, spiritual manner.  Instead, it is an inversion of True Form.

Our current society is not the first Tamasic, or Inverted, Society, and it is likely not the last.  For example, the Roman Empire seems to have undergone a Tamasic period, when its focus was on bread and circuses, with bloody gladiatorial fights to entertain the masses.  I do believe that individual societies have choices with respect to the gunas.  Certainly, in our current world, not every society has entered into the Tamasic period to the same extent or at the same rate.  The dominance of the West has spread the Tamasic poisons to the East.  It remains to be seen how deep this will spread.

Japan, for example, is an interesting case, in that it has been heavily influenced by the West, but it is also spreading its own influence to the West, particularly in the form of children’s media.  Almost all of the nice and sweet video games are made in Japan.  Japan is also producing some very healthy and metaphysically sound children’s shows in the form of Anime.  Actually, you can see this influence in the clothing worn by the girl in the above picture.  On her blue jeans, there is an image of Hello Kitty, which is a sweet and wholesome Japanese image that has spread to the West like wildfire and is quite popular with little girls.  Of course, the image is on sloppy and deracinated clothing, but from a feminine essentialist perspective, one can not help but hope that it is a step in the right direction.

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*In the East, there are circumstances where a rectangular plate is also used.  Examples of that are sushi plates and bento boxes.  Given that the East has in general retained tradition where it has been lost in the West, I think we can trust that there is a ritual significance to the rectangular form of sushi plates and bento boxes.

The Outer Planets – A Theory

One of the big controversies in astrology is what planets should be included in reading charts.  In particular, what do we do with the planets that have been discovered since the 18th Century, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.  We have already established that these planets are not a part of the Traditional Model of the Cosmos.  One of the difficulties with Modern Astrology is that it abandoned the traditional model of the cosmos and traditional techniques in favor of new “discoveries.”

Traditional Astrology has been gaining ground in the past decade or so, which tries to retrieve and relearn techniques that have been long lost from Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance times.  Current practitioners of the craft of Traditional Astrology are not in agreement as to whether the modern planets should included in chart reading.  Some will argue that the modern planets have no meaning at all; others will argue that they DO have meaning, but that they should not be given rulerships or dignities in the signs of the zodiac.  In my own practice, I will have to say that it took me a while to formulate a theory regarding these planets.  For many years, I did not use then at all, and I hardly missed them.  Yet, when I included them in my readings, I did find that there was an added dimension to the chart by including them.  I did notice that they did not have the higher spiritual meanings ascribed to them by New Age astrologers.  Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were malefics, pure and simple.

It was only recently, after reading The Feminine Universe, by Miss Alice Lucy Trent that I began to understand a possible new approach to these planets.  The Feminine Universe described three poisons of the Modern Era.  These poisons are atomization, deracination, and deformation.  It is axiomatic and generally agreed by astrologers that give any meaning at all to the modern planets is that their meaning is informed by the social and political conditions taking place when they were “discovered,” and most would agree that they did not have any meaning whatsoever until after their discovery.  If this was the case, then any meaning ascribed to them would have to be unique to the modern world.  As I thought about the meanings ascribed to these planets and compared them with the description of the above mentioned poisons, they fit almost perfectly together.  Below are the definitions of these poisons, as described by The Feminine Universe.

Don't Tread on MeAtomization

This is the force that separates us from one another.  In societies before the Modern Era, people lived most of their lives in community and in family.  One’s identity in the world was based on one’s community and family connections.  People did not make major decisions on their own.  In Modern times, we are very much cut off from each other, even our own families.  People live alone.  We have complicated governmental programs and insurance to help us in cases of emergency, whereas, in the past, one might rely on one’s family and community to care for us.  In many ways, the United States and other democratic nations are founded on atomization, and it is glorified as “rugged individualism.”  Interestingly enough, the meaning ascribed to Uranus is that of individualism, that which makes us separate and different from one another.  Uranus was discovered in 1781, around the time of the American and French Revolutions.

Downtown Chicago

Deracination

Deracination is the force that cuts us off from our roots and from our traditions.  This poison affects us in many different ways, from the way we dress to our manners and our furniture.  We no longer understand or care about our traditions.  Our understanding of our place in the world and in our community becomes confused and unclear.  This very much fits with the meaning ascribed to Neptune, confusion and lack of definition or clarity.  Neptune was discovered in 1846.  Interestingly enough, the Theosophical Society, which had a huge role in separating traditional sciences, such as astrology, from their roots, was founded in 1875.  In the last half century, deracination has become quite rampant and is most noticeable in the deterioration of our clothing choices and our manners since the mid-1960’s in the West.

PlutoDeformation

The last, and probably most destructive of these three poisons is the poison of Deformation.  This poison is one of inversion, an intentional creation of dark and disturbing images.  One can hardly watch television or consume any modern media without encountering rampant deformation.  The meaning ascribed to Pluto is of death and destruction, a fitting meaning to a planet named with the name of the Lord of the Underworld.  Pluto was discovered in 1930, the time period in between the World Wars, and right before World War II.  It is about 30 years later that Western civilization began a rampant deterioration that the Feminine Universe describes as the Eclipse.  

Now, if the Traditional Planets represent the Higher Cosmological Spheres, it is not hard to extrapolate that the three Outer Planets represent Lower Spheres, or the Outer Darkness, referred to in the Christian tradition.  Interestingly enough, these planets may have very well been known about in Ancient times.  Certainly, Uranus was.  Our Ancient forebears knew enough not to intentionally invoke these planets, however.

In my own astrological practice, I have begun to look to these planets from the viewpoint of places where a Native is most vulnerable to the poisons of atomization, deracination and deformation.  In so doing, I have found that this reading has given me far greater accuracy than any other reading of these planets that I have ever tried.